United States Veterans’ Artists Alliance (USVAA) is a 501 (c) 3, non-profit, multi-disciplinary arts organization composed of a diverse group of dynamic, extraordinarily talented military veterans and artists located across the United States.
Founded in 2004, USVAA seeks to open doors for military veterans to work and thrive in America’s creative economy by providing opportunities in the arts, humanities and entertainment industry. With a solid track record of programming excellence in place, USVAA works tirelessly with veterans, artists, supportive individuals and organizations within the arts and veterans’ communities to find funding and support for individual and collaborative projects in photography, literature, theater, film, television, fine arts and a wide variety of crafts.
In addition to our work with veterans and artists, we strive first and foremost to highlight the talents of military veterans and the history of veterans who have made significant contributions to the arts and humanities since the Revolutionary War. To date we have compiled biographical information on the over 550 military veterans who have made noted contributions to the arts and humanities since the founding of the United States.
As spokespersons in the veteran’s community and in our endeavors as artists, we work diligently to highlight issues of concern to veterans and their families. These issues include the transition from military to civilian life, education, employment, the effects of wartime and military service injuries such as PTSD, TBI and Military Sexual Trauma (MST) and homelessness among veterans.
For more information about our work please visit our ABOUT PAGE.
Moderated by our Colleague Christopher Sweeney and our Executive Director, Keith Jeffreys.
Christopher Sweeney was our Featured Colleague for June 2017 – read our interview with him HERE.
USVAA Colleague of the Month, Michael Naranjo (US Army)
USVAA is proud to announce a new program, the USVAA Colleague of the Month as a means of our continuing efforts to highlight the talent level of the military veterans we work with in the arts, humanities and entertainment industry. This month we’re featuring the work of sculptor Michael Naranjo (US Army).
Vision, Sculpture and the Spirit Inside
Michael Naranjo is a US Army Vietnam war veteran and sculptor from New Mexico. He was badly wounded in Vietnam and returned home blind and with limited use of his right arm. Undaunted by his injuries, he is now an extraordinarily successful sculptor with work in Aspen and Santa Fe galleries, numerous public spaces and several museums. His vision and work reflect his experiences growing up in New Mexico, his Native American Heritage, his unbridled optimism and curious nature. We are proud to feature him as our USVAA August 2017 Colleague of the Month.
Jenna Winters, Michael Naranjo’s daughter is directing and producing a documentary called Dream, Touch, Believe about her father’s life. Please visit and support her work at www.dreamtouchbelieve.org
USVAA: What is your process? How do you begin a particular work?
Michael Naranjo: Ideas come from so many places like my childhood and Indian Dancers, animals and the human form. Suddenly I’ll get an idea from a memory, sometimes a dream. These ideas sit inside for weeks, months, sometimes years before I get around to sculpting them into a form.
I’m almost afraid to start a piece, because I’m almost afraid I can’t do justice to the piece. One thing is the idea; it’s me kind of procrastinating in a way. Once I get my hands on the material I sit down and start creating, then everything else vanishes and I’m totally involved. When the image is in my mind’s eye, then I can use my one good hand – I sculpt basically with my three fingers, my thumb and my middle two fingers and so those are my tools. It takes me a lot of touches for me to get an idea of what a thing looks like and then I can go back and add more detail.
In the old days, I could work for a week at a time, anywhere from 18 to 20 hours a day. I liked to work in the middle of the night because there’s magical energy at night and I would work until I finished the piece. As time progressed I could work on several pieces at one time, then on one for a while and another and another.
I want to add that I’ve only made one piece that was about the war. It was one guy carrying his wounded friend over his shoulder and I won’t ever make another piece about that time period in my life. That was it. The war changed my life and I had to find another way of sculpting.
To continue reading this insightful interview, please click HERE.
To visit our Featured Colleague for the previous month, please click HERE.
Field & Stream® Introduces Trevor Denham-Designed T-Shirt, The First of a Series in Support of USVAA
USVAA is extraordinarily proud to announce that Field & Stream, a specialty outdoor retailer and product brand owned and operated by DICK’S Sporting Goods, has introduced a series of t-shirts that display artwork designed by talented veterans starting with Trevor Denham (USMC). To further support veterans, and the passion and pride they exemplify for our country, Field & Stream will be donating 5% of the proceeds of the sale of the shirts directly to USVAA in support of our mission.
Above is one of the four designs currently on sale at more than 25 Field & Stream stores across the country and FieldandStreamShop.com
On behalf of everyone at USVAA we would like to thank the entire Field & Stream team for creating this opportunity for our colleagues. We look forward to introducing more veteran designed T-Shirts highlighting the importance of outdoor activities and the talent level of veterans working in the creative economy.
Dan Lauria Joins Annette Bening in IF ALL THE SKY WERE PAPER at the Douglas
Lexikat Artists, in association with Chapman University, presents Annette Bening, Dan Lauria and Ken Jenkins (replacing the previously announced James Caan) along with a cast including Kate Mansi (2017 Daytime Emmy winner), in a one-night only performance of the play IF ALL THE SKY WERE PAPER, on Wednesday, June 7 at 7:30pm at the Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City, CA.
The play is a moving, dramatic reading of real wartime letters by soldiers, Marines, sailors, and airmen, as well as their family members at home.
If All the Sky Were Paper is a powerful, humorous and unforgettable play about one man’s search around the world for the “most extraordinary letters ever written,” and is based entirely on real life war letters-letters written by soldiers and their loved ones during wars from the American Revolutionary War to present emails from Afghanistan.
Please click HERE to read more at Broadway World.
USVAA FEATURED ON PBS’ LAART PROGRAM
From honoring contributions, to supporting artistic endeavors to advocating for the concerns of our veterans and their families the United States Veterans Artists Alliance takes a creative approach to working with those who have given so much.
Please click HERE to watch the clip.